Best Music Universities In The UK – 2024 Guide

Unleash your musical aspirations and embark on a harmonious journey through the vibrant world of music education in the United Kingdom. Welcome to our exhilarating 2024 guide, where we unveil the finest of music universities that will ignite your passion and propel your talents to new heights. Prepare to immerse yourself in a symphony of knowledge, innovation, and artistic expression as we unveil the very best music institutions that the UK has to offer. 

Best music universities in the UK

Table of Contents

Should I Get a Music Degree?

Deciding whether getting a music degree is a good option depends on various factors and individual circumstances. While the value of a music degree can be subjective, it offers several advantages and opportunities for aspiring musicians and music enthusiasts.

  1. Comprehensive Education: Pursuing a music degree provides a structured curriculum that covers various aspects of music theory, history, composition, performance techniques, and more. It equips students with a well-rounded musical education, enhancing their skills and knowledge.

  2. Skill Development: Music degrees focus on honing technical proficiency, musicality, and performance abilities. Through dedicated practice, ensemble work, and guidance from experienced faculty, students can refine their skills and grow as musicians.

  3. Networking and Collaboration: Music programmes often foster a vibrant community of talented individuals. Collaborating with fellow students, professors, and industry professionals can create valuable connections and opportunities for future collaborations and career prospects.

  4. Access to Resources: Universities with music programmes offer access to state-of-the-art facilities, practice rooms, recording studios, and music libraries. These resources can significantly enhance the learning experience and provide valuable tools for artistic exploration.

However, it’s important to note that success in the music industry often relies on a combination of talent, hard work, networking, and entrepreneurial skills. It may not always be necessary to obtain a music degree to pursue a career in music. Some musicians have found success through self-study, mentorship, independent projects, or alternative paths. Do check out the full review of what to expect if you’re thinking of studying music in university

What are the Career Opportunities?

A music degree can open up a range of career opportunities in the music industry and related fields. Here are some potential career paths for individuals with a music degree:

  • Performer: Graduates can pursue careers as solo performers, ensemble members, or session musicians. They can perform in orchestras, bands, choirs, theaters, clubs, cruise ships, or as solo artists.

  • Music Educator: Many music degree holders become teachers, instructing students of all ages in private lessons, schools, community centers, or music academies. They can specialise in teaching instruments, voice, music theory, or conducting ensembles.

  • Composer/Arranger: Those with a passion for composition can work as composers, writing music for films, TV shows, video games, advertising, or other multimedia projects. They can also arrange music for different ensembles or create original compositions for performance.

  • Music Producer/Engineer: Music graduates can pursue careers in the recording industry, working as producers or audio engineers in studios. They collaborate with artists to achieve desired sounds, oversee recording sessions, mix and master tracks, and ensure high-quality audio production.

  • Music Therapist: Music degree holders can explore the field of music therapy, using music to improve the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of individuals with diverse needs. They work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, or community organisations.

  • Arts Administrator: Graduates can work in arts organisations, festivals, concert halls, or record labels in administrative roles. They manage operations, plan events, coordinate logistics, handle marketing and promotion, or work in artist management.

  • Music Journalism: Music enthusiasts can pursue careers in music journalism, writing reviews, articles, or interviews for magazines, newspapers, online publications, or working as music critics.

It’s important to note that the music industry is highly competitive and often requires perseverance, networking, and adaptability. Many musicians and music professionals also engage in multiple career paths simultaneously or diversify their skills to increase their opportunities.

Best 5 Music Universities in the UK

Here are the best universities for music degrees in the UK entering 2024:

1. Cambridge and Oxford Music Review

While music has been a part of the rich history of these fine institutions, they host some of the best facilities and music libraries in any British university. You can find the world famous Bate Collection of Musical Instruments in Oxford, where the faculty also has a gamelan orchestra. Throughout the years, some of the very best in the industry have stepped through these gates. 

The University of Cambridge boasts an impressive lineup of individuals who have either studied or taught there. Among them are renowned composers like Judith Weir, Errollyn Wallen, Thomas Adès, and Academy Award-winning film composer Steven Price. The university has also nurtured talented performers such as Joanna MacGregor and Mark Padmore. Esteemed conductors including John Eliot Gardiner and Nicholas Collon have graced its halls, and notable writers and broadcasters like Sara Mohr-Pietsch (Radio 3) have contributed to its intellectual tapestry. Additionally, Cambridge has played host to crossover artists like Delia Derbyshire and Clean Bandit, further enriching its vibrant musical legacy.

2. University of Southampton Music Review

Among all the Russell Group universities, the University of Southampton offers the most choice: of style, instrument and specialisation, from medieval to pop and from composition to musicology. This makes the 3-year BA Music degree a broader experience for all students. While everything is great here, you have the opportunity to spend one semester abroad as well, further expanding your horizons.

3. Durham University Music Review

The BA Music in Durham University combines the traditional and the modern in the study of music, exploring diverse genres from the past and present and developing exciting new approaches in musicology, composition (acoustic and electroacoustic), analysis, ethnomusicology, music and science, and performance. Be prepared to go through nineteenth- and twentieth-century British music, Indian and Korean music, popular music, music technology, conducting, music psychology, opera, analysis, and contemporary composition. Also, all this will be take place at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Durham City. Exciting? I think so too. 

4. Guildhall School of Music & Drama Music Review

The Bachelor of Music Honours degree at Guildhall School is centred around world-leading one-to-one tuition for performers, composers and electronic musicians. The school offers training in the following principal study areas: Strings, Wind, Brass, Percussion, Keyboard, Vocal Studies, Composition, Electronic & Produced Music and Jazz. Besides that, you can also begin your musical career with partnership organisations such as the Barbican, London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

5. Royal Holloway, University of London Music Review

The BMus at Royal Holloway is ranked third in the UK for research quality (REF 2014) and the only music department in the country to hold a prestigious Regius Professorship. The well connected faculty also allows you to have access to connections such as Wigmore Hall, the BBC Proms, Royal Opera House. In addition, you will have a chance to work with with professional conductors and receive coaching from leading professional groups such as the King’s Singers and the London Mozart Players.

Listen to what Solomon has to say about studying music at Royal Holloway

Music University Rankings in the UK

Here is the latest list of the best universities for music in the UK as we enter 2024:

RankInstitutionEntry StandardsStudent SatisfactionResearch QualityContinuationGraduate prospects outcomesGraduate prospects on trackOverall Score
1University of Cambridge2044.033.5899.28288100
2University of Oxford1983.913.08100888497.3
3University of Southampton1684.033.3198.8869696
4University of Manchester2064.033.596.4707095.4
5University of Sheffield1694.23.3297.3828894.9
6Durham University2083.773.3896.3727294.3
7University of Leeds1863.883.4799667693.3
8Guildhall School of Music & Drama1574.073.2897.4908293.3
9Royal Holloway, University of London1753.893.6897.5727493
10King's College London, University of London1743.713.6191.6947692.8
11University of Birmingham1703.893.2195.1828491.9
12University of Surrey1674.193.0798.7767291.5
13University of Bristol16843.4198.5726891.4
14Royal Northern College of Music1503.892.7698.3907889.3
15University of York1564.153.2995.5746689
16The University of Edinburgh2063.683.3995.3706288.3
17Royal Academy of Music, University of London1503.962.4596.8908088.1
18Bangor University1514.183.0895727287.8
19Queen's University Belfast1603.853.298.3646887.7
20University of Glasgow2133.793.4493.9607487.6
21Birmingham City University1564.013.1495.7707887.1
22University of Nottingham1413.913.4396.8647886.6
23Cardiff University1523.963.1596.6666486.3
24Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance1323.732.9295.8807684.7
25Royal College of Music1313.963.0199.284.6
26Royal Conservatoire of Scotland1843.682.8397.5747284.3
27University of Plymouth1393.663.1991.2787283.8
28University of East London1314.132.2998827283.6
29University of Aberdeen1714.262.7490.4649283.1
30University of Liverpool1604.013.192.9525682.9
31Newcastle University1573.673.3395506082.8
32Ulster University1304.143.0787.9727682.5
33University of Huddersfield1314.293.5690.2586082.4
34University of Brighton1283.833.279682.4
35City, University of London1403.663.5288.782
36University of Kent1363.593.5690.5587281.4
37University of Chester1483.82.4695.4666681.4
38Leeds Arts University1484.2910081.1
39York St John University1284.212.8486768081
40University of Lincoln1363.733.0494.2547080.7
41Brunel University London4.052.8594.7506080.6
42University of Winchester1254.242.8690646680.4
43Falmouth University1183.993.17726680.1
44Edinburgh Napier University1974.091.9595.8586679.9
45University of Chichester1513.722.2594646479.2
46Oxford Brookes University1293.762.6390.2726878.9
47Goldsmiths, University of London1363.273.1990.5646678.8
48Bath Spa University1273.782.6194.8646878.5
49University of Sussex1353.943.1987.2546078.4
50University of Salford1394.112.7888.6586678.2
51University of West London1353.622.7891.1646478.1
52University of Gloucestershire1144.122.6991607078
53Liverpool Hope University1233.912.6390.6587677.9
54University of Bedfordshire1314.3299626677.8
55Rose Bruford College3.862.3595527477.6
56Canterbury Christ Church University1073.992.9687.7628277.3
57University of South Wales1333.951.5594.4647277.2
58Middlesex University1124.112.6581.4808276.9
59Leeds Beckett University1363.972.2991.7566676.7
60University of Derby4.132.4693.3466476.7
61Coventry University1264.093.1678.1667676.6
62Kingston University1213.943.187.5606076.6
63De Montfort University1364.053.0586.3506276.4
64University of Hertfordshire1154.012.7193.6585876.2
65University for the Creative Arts1074.353.0695.8405676
66Edge Hill University1383.842.9487.2446875.7
67University of Greenwich1573.8495.2545475.5
68Staffordshire University1434.282.7493.8243675.2
69University of Hull1174.082.8885.9505874.3
70Nottingham Trent University1264.0492666674.2
71Solent University (Southampton)1413.891.9490.8565473.8
72Anglia Ruskin University3.413.3583.3507073.7
73University of Wales Trinity Saint David1493.9186.8567073.3
74University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)4.1190.9527673.2
75University of Northampton1243.462.2388.7606072.7
76Bournemouth University11342.9786.2563672.3
77University of Central Lancashire1263.32.2985565870.1
78Buckinghamshire New University1313.9883.3606470
79Liverpool John Moores University1304.0282.1586469.2
80University of Westminster, London1203.7784.8745069.1
81University of the West of Scotland1603.632.3582.3486068.1
82London South Bank University864.042.8281.8386666.5
83University of Sunderland843.933.2178.9406466.1

Will AI Replace Artists?

Artistry is deeply rooted in human emotions, experiences, and creativity. While AI has shown impressive capabilities in generating art, music, and other creative works, it is not poised to replace artists.

Artists bring unique perspectives, emotions, and narratives to their creations, making their work a reflection of human culture and individuality. AI-generated art may serve as a source of inspiration or collaboration, but the essence of artistic expression lies in the depth of human experience. The future is likely to see artists embracing AI tools as a means of enhancing their creative process, leading to new forms of artistic expression.

How are the Rankings Measured?

The ranking methodology includes several key indicators, such as teaching quality, research output and reputation, industry connections and engagement, international diversity, and citations. These indicators help evaluate the academic environment, resources, faculty expertise, and global impact of relevant institutions. The rankings also consider factors like student satisfaction, graduate employability, and the influence and reach of research conducted by the universities.

Frequently Asked Questions about UK Music Universities

Entry requirements vary between universities, but typically include academic qualifications such as A-levels or their equivalent. Additionally, a performance audition or submission of a portfolio may be required to assess your musical abilities.

Depending on the university, it may be possible to study multiple instruments or disciplines within a music degree programme. Some programmes offer flexibility and allow students to explore various musical areas, while others may have more specific requirements.

The curriculum typically includes a balance of practical and theoretical subjects, such as music theory, music history, composition, performance, ensemble work, and music technology. Some programmes also offer opportunities for specialisation or focus on specific genres or instruments.

Yes, music programmes often provide numerous performance opportunities. Students may participate in concerts, recitals, ensembles, and workshops, both within the university and at external venues. These experiences help develop their performance skills and build their portfolios.

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